Two former Air Force vets will soon be taking flight by opening an Interim HealthCare in Salt Lake City. Michael Hawkins and Michael Eliason are the recipients of the waived franchise fee that Interim HealthCare announced in 2013 as a special incentive and support for military personnel. The two plan to begin offering personal care and support services next month and expand to skilled nursing care within the first year.
"When we announced the waived franchise fee for a qualifying military veteran in May, we couldn't have hoped to find a team as well matched to our core values as Michael and Eli," says Kathleen Gilmartin, president and CEO of Interim HealthCare. "As airmen, they embody the core values of integrity, service before self, and excellence in all they do - characteristics also vital to running a successful home care business.
Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Eliason, a B-1 pilot, spent more than 22 years of service leading America's sons and daughters in worldwide combat operations. Major Hawkins, an intelligence officer spent 18 years supporting combat and peacetime operations around the continent. Their last duty assignment was teaching Air Force ROTC and Aerospace Studies at the University of Utah. In searching for their next "mission," they wanted something with a higher calling.
"My wife is a nurse so I knew people in home health are driven by a greater sense of purpose like we are in the military," says Hawkins. "By using my experience of managing and leading teams in the Air Force, I can make sure caregivers not only have the resources to do their job, but create an environment where they enjoy their job and are reinvigorated. I believe patients will sense this higher sense of purpose."
The partners say Interim HealthCare's franchise structure fits perfectly with their military training of using existing systems and checklists for quality outcomes. Eliason also stated the ability to lead, teach, and mentor as well as be humble, approachable, and credible are all key military characteristics that will translate for success in the health care business.
"We wanted to do something more noble...something that gives us a reason to get up every day," says Eliason. "Our research led us to Interim HealthCare and after a visit with corporate, we began working on ways to finance the franchise," he says. "When we heard the franchise fee was waived for us as veterans, it was pretty unbelievable. It feels really, really nice that our military service is recognized."
Awarded to the first qualifying veteran, the waived franchise fee was above and beyond Interim HealthCare's current participation in "Operation Enduring Opportunity," a program developed by the International Franchise Association (IFA). The IFA program has a goal "to hire as team members and recruit as franchise business owners 75,000 veterans and military spouses and 5,000 wounded warriors by 2014." Since 2011, there have been more than 64,000 veterans who have launched their careers in franchising. Veteran's programs including VetFran, developed by the IFA, have becoming increasingly important opportunities for war heroes to re-enter the civilian workforce. Interim has participated in the VetFran program for a number of years. The total savings represented by the waived fee is $40,000.
Hawkins resides in Salt Lake City with his wife, young son, and two daughters. He stays busy coaching youth sports including lacrosse. Eliason also lives in Salt Lake City and enjoys golfing when he's not spending time with his wife and two teenage daughters.
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